Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra And S22+ Review: Ultimate Android Flagships

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra And S22+ Audio Quality, Performance And Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and S22+ Audio, Data, and Call Reception

We tested the Galaxy S22 Ultra and S22+ primarily on T-Mobile’s sub-6GHz 5G network and Verizon’s mmWave 5G network in and around San Francisco, and didn’t have any problems. Calls sounded loud and clear, and data speeds exceeded our expectations, with downloads reaching 3.5Gbps on Verizon’s mmWave 5G network. For comparison, the Galaxy S21 Ultra only manages 2.6Gbps in the same location.

millmeter wave speedtest verizon on samung galaxy s22 ultra
Verizon mmWave 5G Speed Test - Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra

Clearly, Qualcomm’s new integrated Snapdragon X65 5G modem is a major upgrade. Unlike most Android competitors, these handsets support every flavor of 5G currently available in North America, including C-band, and are certified for all three major US carriers. Our review units, which came unlocked, also worked fine on AT&T’s 5G network.

On the audio front, all three S22 models feature AKG-tuned stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos. Sound quality from both the S22 Ultra and the S22+ is solid, matching the outgoing S21 Ultra and other flagships like the Pixel 6 Pro. The S22 series also includes aptX HD and LDAC for high-quality wireless audio over Bluetooth, but only supports digital USB Type-C devices, so you’ll need an external DAC for wired audio.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and S22+ Performance

All three Galaxy S22 models use 4nm processors – either Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 in markets like North America, or Samsung’s in-house Exynos 2200 in other regions. As you’d expect, our US review units came with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Memory and storage options also vary, with 8 or 12GB RAM plus up to 1TB of storage for the S22 Ultra, and 8GB RAM plus 128 or 256GB of storage for the S22/S22+.

Interestingly, the base configuration for the S22 Ultra only packs 8GB RAM, unlike its predecessor, which offered 12GB on the entry model. On the flip side, storage options now include a new 1TB tier in addition to the usual 128, 256, and 512GB configurations. But regardless of which S22 model you pick, you’ll enjoy fast LPDDR5 RAM and UFS 3.1 storage. Just don’t expect micro SD support.

Performance-wise these phones feel ultra smooth and super quick. We didn’t notice any differences between the S22 Ultra (12GB of RAM) and the S22+ (8GB of RAM). Both handled our usual collection of day-to-day apps – from productivity to communication to entertainment to gaming – without breaking a sweat. We also didn’t experience any glitches or slowdowns, even when switching between dozens of apps.

Our benchmarks confirmed the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1’s best-in class performance, with GPU workloads in particular benefiting from a major boost in speed over last year’s Snapdragon 888. Throttling is more of an issue than what we recorded with last year’s Galaxy S21. Both the S22 Ultra and S22+ exhibit a major drop in performance (up to 50%) within the first 20 minutes when running sustained workloads (see details below).

Galaxy S22 Series Geekbench Results

galaxy s22 geekbench scores

GeekBench isn't our favorite benchmark, as it's purely synthetic and can be heavily targeted for optimization. Regardless, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor delivers a slight improvement in single thread performance but no significant improvement in multi-threaded performance over previous generation Snapdragon 888-equipped Android flagships.

Galaxy S22 Series PCMark For Android Benchmarks

Futuremark's PCMark for Android is an excellent suite of tests if you want to benchmark a wide range of tasks on any handset -- things like image and video editing, as well as lighter-duty, everyday workloads such as email and web browsing. When you see the test running live, it's clear the scripted application tests are carefully selected and tuned to make use of the each mobile platform in a very controlled way...

galaxy s22 ultra pcmark benchmarks

Here both handsets show similar performance to previous generation flagships, with the Galaxy S22+ falling just behind the RedMagic 6R and the S22 Ultra falling just behind the OnePlus 9.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Series AnTuTu 8 Benchmark Results

AnTuTu’s latest benchmark returns a number of metrics ranked with somewhat nebulous scores, rather than frame rates or time to complete. Here we're running the latest version of AnTuTu across multiple Android devices. AnTuTu returns four top level performance results which are all included here: CPU, RAM, 3D, UX (or User Experience), along with a total score...

galaxy s22 ultra antutu scores

galaxy s22 aitutu score

According to AnTuTu, The Galaxy S22 Ultra and S22+ offer a substantial increase in performance vs. previous generation Android handsets, with the S22 Ultra even beating Qualcomm's Smartphone For Snapdragon Insiders in overall score.

However, in AITuTu, which is specifically an image recognition and classification benchmark for AI and machine learning workloads, we see a different picture. Here there are big gains for the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powered Galaxy S22 Series devices, but they don't catch two scores in our database from Snapdragon 888-powered devices. We've found this to be the case where some phones might not have the latest neural network models installed in the phones firmware packages, so an update here from Samsung could easily change this picture. 

3D Graphics And Gaming Benchmarks With Samsung's Galaxy S22 Series

Next we're checking how the Galaxy S22 series compares in GFXBench, which has been one of the standard mobile graphics/gaming performance benchmarks for years. To ensure that display refresh (v-sync) and resolution aren't limiting factors, we're comparing off-screen test results here. GFXBench tests OpenGL ES graphics workloads and we're specifically testing OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0.

galaxy s22 series gfxbench trex benchmarks

galaxy s22 s22 ultra vs iphone 13 pro gfxbench scores

Now we're seeing the kind of performance improvement we expected from the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-equipped Galaxy S22 series. These new phones clearly beat Snapdragon 888-powered devices, and come out way ahead of ASUS' ROG Phone 5 in X-Mode. They even best Apple's latest iPhone 13 Pro in the more modern Manhattan test, which is a major coup.

Futuremark's 3DMark Sling Shot is a newer benchmark module that's been added to the 3DMark mobile suite. Unlike previous gen 3DMark mobile tests, Sling Shot is a much more advanced OpenGL ES 3.1 and Metal API-based benchmark that employs more advanced rendering techniques, like volumetric lighting, particle illumination, multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback.

3DMark Sling
Shot Test
3DMark Sling Shot Extreme Benchmark

We're running this test in off-screen mode once again to remove display resolution differences from the equation. This lets us compare cross-platform results more reliably...

galaxy s22 ultra 3dmark sling shot benchmarks

Here we see no significant improvement to the overall score over Snapdragon 888-equipped flagships. Still, the Galaxy S22 Ultra and S22+ perform extremely well in this test, beating every other Android flagship in the graphics score by a wide margin.

Galaxy S22 Series 3DMark Wild Life Benchmark Tests

3DMark Wild Life is the latest cross-platform test from UL. Its primary purpose is to measure GPU performance across platforms, and two distinct tests are available. The standard Wild Life test is designed to give feedback on how a game performs over a short period of time. With mobile games, people typically play in brief spurts when they find some free time; be it on the bus, on the subway, or a quick battle royale session over lunch break. The 3DMark Wild Life Stress Test, on the other hand, shows how a device performs over a longer stretch of time, and takes note of performance degradation that might crop up due to increased heat levels and throttling.

3dmark wild
life screen shot

galaxy s22 3dmark wildlife benchmark

3DMark Wild Life is a significantly more taxing graphics benchmark that employs cutting-edge mobile game engine technologies to deliver impressive visuals -- as you can see in the screen shot above. Here the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1-powered Galaxy S22 series delivers a massive improvement in performance versus some of the fastest Snapdragon 888-equipped devices, and even comes within striking distance of the iPhone 13 Pro, which is running on its Metal API in this test.

3DMark wild life stress test galaxy s22 ultra crop

Unfortunately, the Galaxy S22+ and S22 Ultra do exhibit similar throttling to what we experienced with the Galaxy S21, managing a stability score of just 49.8% and 52.5%, respectively in the Wild Life Stress test. This isn't too surprising, as most Android phones we test, as well as iPhones throttle pretty hard under load. Gaming phones like the ASUS ROG series and a few others are notable exceptions here with respect to throttling, however.

Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra And S22+ 5G Other Features and Battery Life

The rest of the specs will soon be standard on most Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 flagships. Both the S22 Ultra and S22+ include sub-6GHz and mmWave 5G (SA / NSA), CAT 20 LTE, dual-band WiFi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.2 (LE), NFC, UWB, dual-band A-GPS / GLONASS / BeiDou / GALILEO positioning, plus the usual array of sensors. Also, it’s worth noting that the S22 only offers WiFi 6 (not 6E) and lacks UWB.

Rounding things up, the S22 Ultra and S22+ feature superior haptics thanks to a quality linear vibration motor, plus an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor that’s quick and reliable. Face unlock is also available, and works well. Both handsets support 45W wired charging (USB PD 3.0) and 15W Qi wireless charging, plus 4.5W reverse wireless charging, but the S22 tops out at 25W. Like last year, there’s no charger supplied in the box.

samsung galaxy s22 series battery life test

Speaking of charging, battery life for both of these new Galaxy devices is impressive. The S22 Ultra boasts a 5000mAh battery, which lasted 12 hours and 4 minutes at 120Hz (adaptive refresh rate / 1080p resolution) in our PCMark battery test. Meanwhile, the S22+’s 4500mAh battery lasted an amazing 13 hours and 54 minutes at 120Hz (adaptive refresh rate) in the same test. What this means is that for most users, these handsets will easily last a day – or even longer – on a full charge.

Next up: the software, pricing, and the review verdict...

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